The quirky, fun, but artistically disappointing and wordy "Napoleon Dynamite #1"

Writers: Carlos Guzman-Verdugo & Alejandro Verdugo, Art & Colors: Jorge Monlongo, Letters: Christa Miesner.


For most people, when the name Napoleon Dynamite comes up, a vast array of quotes and '80s style images comes to mind due to the film's iconic nature.



"Napoleon Dynamite #1" Cover A by Sara Richard

The wildly aloof and creative titular character gave such credence to nerd-dom, that it became in style. The hard, yet playful, stereotypes on characters from Napoleon, to Pedro, to Uncle Rico gave the film such defining moments that caused it to be loved the world over. Napoleon Dynamite was an epic moment in film history as it stood out as something so different from nearly everything that was being produced at the time.


Then there's this book.


My nostalgia factor kicked into overdrive when hearing about this title from IDW, and after recently jumping on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bandwagon (that there is wonderfully well-written, illustrated, the whole shebang), I figured why not give this callback a try?


The cover by Sara Richard is amazing. It's an epic play on the iconic "Vote for Pedro" shirt (that I even had as a young'un), and even details on the image showcasing the plotline of the book were a nice touch, meant to get one intrigued without giving too much away.


Then we have the writing.


Guzman-Verdugo/Verdugo do well to stay fairly true to the characters' diction, but the level of word usage causes a bit of clutter on the page. To be quite fair though, as I trudged along the pages, I could hear Jon Heder's stuffy/annoyed Napoleon and Efren Ramirez's short/blunt/lackadaisical Pedro in my mind. This all would have been quite fun, if not for the excessive packing of panels.


The real culprit of my disdain for the book is the artwork by Jorge Monlongo. Now I've got to be careful here in my following phrasing. The severe departure from the lifelike portrayal of everybody's favorite quirky crew is what I believe caused the downfall of the animated series in 2012, and it does no justice to the legacy here. Monlongo's caricatures are short and bigheaded, which is a far cry from what the fanbase is used to in these characters' likenesses. Jon Heder's tall, gaunt stature is on par with the rest of the crew's heights, which in my opinion, takes away from his character's essence, particularly with the way he presents himself in his clothing style.


Monlongo's caricatures are unusual and very different from the animated series

Now this isn't to say that the character design is shorted through Monlongo's own design, but potentially through the overcrowding caused by the Verdugos' script. I am not at liberty to say that my reasoning is sound, but it would certainly grant some forgiveness if that was the case.


I had high hopes for this book, and while it was quirky and fun in its script, it could have possible been spread between two issues, to lend time and space for a higher quality comic.


Here's to hoping for better subsequent issues of Napoleon Dynamite, a true legacy.





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